Lingo24 talks to ‘big names’ over contracts

Christian Arno: 'aggressively' growing sales and marketing
Christian Arno: 'aggressively' growing sales and marketing
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LANGUAGES specialist Lingo24 is taking on search engine giants Google and Yahoo! with the launch of a translation unit.

Professor Andy Way, is negotiating contracts with “very big names” to build customised engines for major firms working across international territories and markets.

Christian Arno, the company’s founder, declined to confirm the names of the companies involved, although sources suggested Lingo24 was in talks with global giants Microsoft and Cisco Systems to provide copy translation across their global operations.

The firm claims that its service completes translation “virtually in real time” with greater accuracy than free- to-use services such as Google Translate and Yahoo! Babelfish.

Automatic translation requires complicated algorithmic database software systems that hold large volumes of previously translated material that matches the foreign phrases it finds.

Arno said: “What clients want is a variable level of quality for different applications. We have to be in a position whereby we are competitive, and ultimately where we can make it fully customisable.

“There’s a concept of ‘good enough’ translation and also making the vast bulk of content that exists within the enterprise multilingual – that gives us new opportunities and new challenges.”

Way joined Edinburgh-based Lingo24 at the end of last year after the company he founded, Applied Language Solutions, was acquired by Capita.

“We have enjoyed fast and steady growth. We have evolved and taken opportunities as we have grown,” said Arno.

He said the company was “aggressively” growing its sales and marketing functions. “We will really see the growth next year,” he added.

The launch of the machine translation service is set to enhance the development of Lingo24’s proprietary translation platform, called Coach, which connects users to the company’s network of more than 4,000 live translators.

Arno said: “Deals with big companies would confirm we have a world-leading machine translation service.

“What is exciting for me about these deals is we can make Coach the de facto search for people in the language services industry. That is the ambition.”

Lingo24’s biggest clients include BBC, BP and the Royal Bank of Scotland, as well as American Express, MTV and Orange.

Its turnover, according to its latest accounts in 2011, was £6.5 million while income in the year to the end of September 2012 was £7.1m, the company confirmed.

In addition to its offices in Edinburgh, London and Manchester, Lingo24 has hubs in Germany, Panama, the Philippines, Romania and the United States.

Arno started Lingo24 after graduating from Oxford University in 2001.

Start-up funds for the venture came from a £5,000 loan from the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust and an “investment” of £500 of his student loan on the stock market – which yielded a return of £15,000. He incorporated the company in 2002, and the following year won a Shell LiveWIRE award for entrepreneurship.

Twitter: @EdinburghErikka